I walked out at the end of "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," shoulders hunched and head shaking. I had such hopes it would validate the months I'd been talking up the novel on which it was based, defending its cleverness and originality.
Cinema Siren and Siren Spouse listened to the unabridged book on the way to the "Star Wars" convention in Florida when it was released and found it surprisingly inventive and thoroughly enjoyable. The book is well written and researched.
The real and fantastical elements are woven together so well, it feels very believable, so the fans of the book are able to swallow the really big conceit that Honest Abe led a double life as public figure and vampire vigilante, all amidst the turmoil of the civil unrest and war of the late 1800s.
Writer Seth Grahame-Smith wrote both the novel and the screenplay. Instead of standing by as the novelist while the film was being made, watching someone else ruin his original story, at least whatever wound up on the screen is to his success or failure. I'd say the latter.
"No point in crying over spilt blood. Unless you're "dying" to see an action movie this weekend, get the novel and read it by the pool instead."
The problem is an alternate history in which vampires rule the South and use slavery to both succeed financially and feed their numbers will only work if it is grounded in "reality." To make this movie a special effects heavy violent action-er pulls the pins out of the whole construct, rendering it as ridiculous as the title sounds.
It reduces it to a cobbled-together story of "Abe Lincoln, Superhero!" who happens to mumble or orate quotes we all recognize in between taking his trusty axe to the necks of sundry sunglass-sporting men in dapper clothes.
It is certainly no fault of the cast, all of whom valiantly play their roles with great aplomb, committing to the reinterpretations of their historic counterparts with such a fearlessness, one wishes it had come to more. Benjamin Walker as Abe (who should get some credit just for the six-hour daily makeup applications), Anthony Mackie as Will Johnson, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as (an almost entirely fictionalized) Mary Todd, are all rising stars. All three will likely rise to the top of the Hollywood food chain.
Here's hoping the next thing they do both shows off their talents and does more than seem ridiculously unbelievable even in a world full of vampires. No point in crying over spilt blood. Unless you're "dying" to see an action movie this weekend, get the novel and read it by the pool instead.
About this column: Leslie Combemale, "Cinema Siren," is a movie lover and aficionado in Northern Virginia. Alongside Michael Barry, she owns ArtInsights, an animation and film art gallery in Reston Town Center. She has a background in film and art history. She often is invited to present at conventions such as the San Diego Comic Con, where she has been a panelist for The Art of the Hollywood Movie Poster and the Harry Potter Fandom discussion. Visit her gallery website at www.artinsights.com and see more of her reviews and interviews on www.artinsightsmagazine.com.